Conservation Through Birding

Birder  at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge  by FWS Birder at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge by FWS


Birders as a Commercial Force For Conservation


Birdwatching is one of the most popular and fastest growing pastimes in America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calculates that some 47.7 million Americans watch birds, up 18% from 2001. That's approximately one in five of the adult U.S. population, and more than the number of people who play golf!


Not surprisingly, there is a vast industry associated with birdwatching; from makers and retailers of bird seed and feeders, to optics and camera companies, birding software designers, and providers of birding tours. Add to that the indirect benefits assocoiated with bird-related tourism (from airline seats to hotels and restaurants etc), and what you have is a $31 billion-per-year industry.


That commercial power can also be used for conservation good to protect birds and their habitats. ABC encourages birders to subscribe to BirdWire, ABC's news and action alert email service, so that you can be informed of pressing conservation issues and lend your support by taking action on behalf of birds. With the support of birdwatchers across the country, we can create a powerful conservation force, and help ensure that common birds remain common and that threatened birds are provided with the protection they need to thrive again.


If you are traveling abroad, stay at a lodge that supports bird conservation. Visit the Conservation Birding Website for a list of fantastic birding locations where your visit will help protect birds and their habitats.


When you go birding, don't forget to let people know "a birder was here". Sign guest books at wildlife refuges and other birding locations. This helps refuge and park officials estimate the number of people visiting for birds and helps them justify budgets and park usage.


You can also leave behind a calling card at businesses you patronize during your trip to tell the owners that birders are helping to support them and will return as long as bird habitats are maintained. A birder's business cards are available for download here.


Birders and Science


Birders can also take part in a variety of citizen science projects that collect their bird observations. The data they collect can help build an understanding of bird populations and where changes are occuring. Some of the best-known surveys include the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count. One problem, however, is a lack of consistency between many data gathering projects in both method and analysis. ABC has produced a guide to monitoring for the Northeast region called the Northeast Bird Monitoring Handbook, which can help with cosistency of study design for bird monitoring projects across the nation.


Birders' Networks


There are many listserves that primarily cary rare bird reports which can also be a useful resource in networking. Visit for more information. The American Birding Association also offers a range of information on its website, including directories of bird clubs, festivals, birding trails and listserves. A plethora of both volunteer and paid positions can also be found at the Ornithological Societies of North America jobs page.


Please Follow the Rules


When out birding, please adhere to the American Birding Association's code of ethics. This code focuses on not stressing birds or their habitats through birding activities, as well as respecting other birders, property, and laws.